Author: Amanda Maciel
Published: April 29th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review
"Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.
At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.
During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.
In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page."
First line: "'Did you ever have a physical confrontation with Miss Putnam?'".
Thoughts: I think some of the best books are the ones that make you uncomfortable and challenge you. To be honest, I absolutely despised the main character in this novel. She never grew on me, and I spent the majority of the time wanting to throw the book against my wall, and pull my hair out. Well, if one book can provoke this much emotion from me, that has to mean it's good and worth reading, right? Right!
The one main thing I loved about this book is how honest it is. Not once did Sara feel any remorse for the part she played in Emma's suicide. She defended her actions by calling Emma a slut, believing this without question, and telling us, the reader, how Emma deserved the harsh and downright cruel actions conducted by Sara and her friends. Quite frankly, not only did it frighten me, it also disgusted me.
The truth of the matter is, Sara is just a teenage girl. We know she is in the wrong, but she's still more of a child than an adult. She has a lot of growing up to do, and a lot of teenagers nowadays have a sense of entitlement and their own way of depicting "justice". Does this make it okay? Absolutely not, but let's be honest... It doesn't matter how some people were raised or whatever the case may be. Some people and often their friends are just awful people. Her moral compass is off (way off), but that's for her to figure out as she grows up.
It didn't help that Sara's friendship with Brielle is just downright toxic. Brielle encouraged Sara and though Sarah believes Brielle is giving her strength, making her strong and helping her stand up for herself, what Sara doesn't see is the damage they're both doing to their lives and the lives of everyone around them. It's like mixing hydrogen, sulfur, and oxygen together. Though they create a compound when merged, all you can smell is rotting eggs.
"I didn't know how to stop all the stuff we did to Emma. I should have said it as wrong. It felt wrong, but it felt good, too, to be angry and hateful an mean."
Now, I'm not saying all teenagers are like this. God save us if they were. I'm just saying there are people like this who exist, and I'm sure each of us can think of at least one bully, one person that either made your life or another person's life a living nightmare. This book helps you view possibly why bullies are the way they are. It's not pleasant, and it's definitely not right, but maybe future or current bullies will read this and rethink their actions. It's all anyone can ask for.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this novel. It made me cringe and angry and not happy (not even once), but I enjoyed the reality check. I hope this book will help other teenagers realize that bullying is never the answer and to try and listen to your conscience, even if your best friend is telling you otherwise.